Country Tunes…Help!

I have a confession to make: I love happy country tunes.  I loathed them growing up, but somewhere along the line I fell for country and I fell hard.  The thing is, I know so little about it!  I have a playlist of 30 or so songs made by a friend (it has everything from Johnny Cash to Taylor Swift), but that’s it.  So I need your help—what country songs and/or artists do you recommend?  Where should I start?  I’d be forever grateful!

(image: paranoiagirl)

74 comments on “Country Tunes…Help!

  1. Decor Arts Now

    Katie I swear we must share a genetic background somewhere!My hubs, Larry LOVES country. As a result of hanging out with him, I like it now too. Do u know Sugarland? They just put out a new CD. And of course u gotta listen to the “classics”. Nobody beats Johnny Cash. I am sure if I asked him he would give me a long list if u really want more! XxLynn

  2. Ashleigh

    I’m a Southern girl who lived in Nashville but never appreciated country until I moved away – crazy right?!
    My all time country favorite is Faith Hill but it’s more than just the music :) Currently loving Lady Antebellum – both albums, Sugarland – everything but newest :(, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert’s Revolution album, Keith Urban. Did you watch the CMA’s? I was disappointed this year, usually love it but performances felt a little ‘blah’ this time.

  3. Sweet Nothings

    oh, so happy are my current favorites…pray for your(jaron), country strong by gwyneth patrow, anything keith urban-m,y all time fav is you look good in my shirt, joe nicholas tequilla makes her clothes fall off, zac brown band chicken fried or whatever it is, carrie underwood all american girl/songs like this/more i love my dog/, lady a our kind of love, sugarland something more, brad paisley american saturday night/ticks, and rascall flatts bless the broken road.

    thats a start! now if you want heartbreak sad make you cry songs, i have a playlist for that too :) sometimes you need a cry!

  4. Kristina

    I really like Martina McBride! Sara Evans is also great – my two favorite albums are Restless and Born to Fly.

  5. karlee

    Country’s my fave, I’ve also lived in Nashville, but loved it long before. Some of my faves: Brad Paisley, Martina McBride, Miranda Lambert, Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum, Jason Aldean…and the list goes on. Download “Only Prettier” by Miranda. Good stuff:)

  6. Deanna

    Faith Hill “This Kiss” and Keith Urban “Somebody Like You.” These are two of the happiest ones I know!

  7. Alex

    I am on the same boat…I used to think country was not great music. Then one summer night my friends dragged me out to a Tobey Keith concert and I was hooked. Country just makes you happy, or if in the need is there for a good cry.
    Luke Bryan is not only talented but happens to be very cute, I went and saw him live recently and he is wonderful!

  8. Paulina J!

    I’m a New Yorker married to a Texan and now live in the South, so I’m just beginning to appreciate country music. One of my favorites is “Itty Bitty” by Alan Jackson. It just makes me smile when I hear it.

  9. Hayley

    Hey! I recently got into country as well but I have found a few songs that I have on repeat: “Wrong Baby Wrong” by Martina McBride, “Should’ve Said No” by Taylor Swift, “Kerosene”, “White Liar” and “Gun Powder and Lead” all by Miranda Lambert (she’s great and she just won a CMA!), I also like Sugarland and I love their new song “Stuck Like Glue” which is insanely addictive and the music video is adorable, as is the lead singer. I hope this helps! Those are more the pop-country songs, but I love them so I hope you will too! I love your blog!

  10. Tyla

    Sugarland – Stuck on You and Baby Girl
    Jarred Neiman – Lover, Lover (not happy, but super catchy)
    Trisha Yearwood – She’s in love with the boy and X’s and O’s
    Faith Hill – This Kiss and The Way You Love Me
    Rascal Flatts – Love You Out Loud

    Those artists are all amazing, but those songs are great places to start!

  11. Victoria | vmac+cheese

    I’m not so into country music these days, but growing up in Texas, I LOVED it. Some of my old school faves are Clay Walker, Tim McGraw and of course, George Strait. In Texas, artists like Pat Green and Robert Earl Keen are big.

  12. Emily Swenson Davis

    This is TOTALLY up my alley :) Love love love Sugarland and Lady Antebellum (listed above). If you want to look at some of the older, classic stuff… GARTH BROOKS is the way to go. He is my all time fav. Also red dirt country, which is a little more under the radar, is amazing as well- check out the Eli Young Band and the Randy Rogers Band.

  13. Emily Swenson Davis

    Oh, and check out Randy Travis “Forever and Ever, Amen”. Its seriously the sweetest song ever!

  14. Elizabeth Rose

    Welcome to the club Kate! :) I adore Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Keith Urban, and Brooks & Dunn. I think the two best songs for you right now are ‘Why Wait’ by Rascal Flatts and ‘Our Kind of Love’ by Lady A. Country songs always make smile and love life!

  15. Ella

    I love love love Little Big Town; they have amazing harmonies, and they’ve got a little more of a bluegrass feel than a lot of the “pop” country that’s on the radio right now. Julie Roberts is a country artist who I wish had produced more albums (her single, “Rain On A Tin Roof,” is fantastic). Easton Corbin’s songs (especially “I’m A Little More Country Than That”) are what I imagine the best parts of the South are like: sweet and simple. Gloriana has fun and insanely catchy songs (I’m a big fan of “Wild at Heart), and Luke Bryant also has some really fun songs that are great to sing along to. And lastly, you can never go wrong with the Dixie Chicks, particularly their album “Wide Open Spaces.”

  16. Victoria

    I love happy country tunes – I have a full “Sunday Country” playlist for when I’m getting chores around the house done. A few of my lesser known favorites (and top 40 tunes) include:
    Cross Canadian Ragweed – 17
    Diamond Rio – Beautiful Mess
    Emerson Drive – November
    Jason Aldean – Amarillo Sky
    Josh Turner – Would You Go With Me
    Randy Rogers Band – Buy Myself a Chance

    Also anything by: Dierks Bentley, Garth Brooks, Pat Green (my personal favorite country artist)

    Hope this helps!

  17. Alicia B

    ummm I’m from CT but i LOVE LOVE country! Tim McGraw, Sugarland, Lady Antebellum, kenny chesney…i could go ONNN for a while but once you hit those you’ll find more of the same. Good luck!

  18. Danielle

    Oh, how I love my country music! Welcome to the world of country, Mrs. Armour–we’re so happy to have you! :)

    Dierks Bentley is a must (not his newest album, that one’s stinky). Brooks and Dunn are fantastic. Some really powerful tunes from them! “I Believe” is by far their best work! Toby Keith may be a little rough around the edges for you, but there isn’t a bad song that man sings! And so patriotic, I love it. OH and my newest obsession, two songs by Steel Magnolias: “Just by Being You” & “Keep on Lovin’ You”.

    Happy Country-ing!!

  19. Jaime

    these are some of my favorites!
    alabama-dixie land delight, she ain’t your ordinary girl
    alison krauss-when you say nothing at all, restless
    brad paisley-mud on the tires, waiting on a woman, the world
    pretty much anything carrie underwood
    chuck wicks ‘stealing cinderella’ is a cute song
    faith hill-any of her stuff is good
    jason aldean’s song ‘johnny cash’ is really fun and catchy
    phil vassar-six pack summer
    kenney chesney sings a lot of fun/happy catchy songs
    you can’t go wrong with anything by garth brooks, lady antebellum, george strait.
    zac brown band, gloriana and love and theft are several newer bands that have really great songs!

    ok this is probably long enough but there is just a lot of good country out there!

  20. CGB2J

    I live in Nashville, TN (the heart of country music) so here ya go:
    Brad Paisley
    The Band Perry
    Martina McBride
    Carrie Underwood
    Loretta Lynn (can’t do without this)
    Zac Brown Band
    Johnny Cash
    Tim McGraw
    *searching for these will ead you to many mpre artists to look into:) Have fun gettin’ your country on! :)

  21. Lauren

    I’d echo pretty much everything that’s already been said, but I’ll add a few more. Directly from my Sunday cooking playlist to you:

    Eric Church – Love Your Love the Most
    Alan Jackson – Never Loved Before & Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow
    Rodney Atkins – It’s America
    Hal Ketchum – Small Town Saturday Night
    Brad Paisley – Start a Band
    Zac Brown Band – Chicken Fried
    Toby Keith – God Love Her & Whiskey Girl
    Dixie Chicks – There’s Your Trouble & Sin Wagon
    SheDaisy – Don’t Worry ‘Bout a Thing, Passenger Seat
    Chris Cagle – What Kinda Gone
    Pat Green – Southbound 35 & Three Days
    Buddy Jewell – Sweet Southern Comfort

  22. Jessie

    I’ve been listening to Taylor Swift’s new album on repeat for the last two weeks, but I LOVE Texas country.

    Give a listen to Pat Green, Aaron Watson, Chris Cagle, Eric Church, Corey Smith, Randy Rogers, and Zac Brown Band.

  23. Laura

    In the last year I have gone from despising country to LOVING country (because I gave it a chance). One of the best moves I’ve ever made! DO check out:

    Alison Krauss- When You Say Nothing at All
    Zac Brown Band- Chicken Fried
    Josh Turner- Why Don’t We Just Dance
    George Strait- Rolling on the River of Love
    Brad Paisley- I Hope That’s Me, The World

  24. Katie Armour Post author

    Laura — It’s all about giving it a chance isn’t it? When I finally stopped turning up my nose to it and actually allowed myself to listen I was instantly hooked ; ) Love all my fellow country converts! Thanks for the tips! xx

  25. Meagan

    Everything Emmylou Harris and Loretta Lynn. Then go through all of George Straits old stuff. So many good songs that man has that make me feel so good. Alison Krauss is pretty amazing too as is all of the old country jams, seriously. Enjoy!

  26. Danielle

    thank you Michelle! Willie is my all-time fave.

    Katie – you think you love country now, just wait until you go to a country concert! I used to go to “hipster” shows and watched other people stand around, trying to look cool while they listened to the band. After my first country concert though, I can’t stand going to anything else! Everyone is intent on having a good time at country shows, it’s infectious. Happy listening!

  27. Lael

    OK I LOVE Merle Haggard and of course Dolly Parton…Jolene is one of my all time favorite songs. I hope you love them as much as I do :)

  28. Cassie

    JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE. A must. Country, Folk, Fun!

    Hope you enjoy. He’s not as known of an Artist as some of the others suggested and for those that aren’t into the usual country singers you should check it out.

  29. Tallent Ricca

    Hello Mrs. Katie Armour!

    Some of my favorites of the moment are the following:

    1. If I Die Young by The Band Perry

    2. As She’s Walking Away and Toes by Zac Brown Band

    3. Weary Kind by Ryan Bingham

    4. Front Porch Song By Robert Earl Keen (anything by him is great)

    Robert Keen is my all time favorite, he is pretty big here in Texas


  30. Nicki

    I would reccomend Lucinda Williams for heartbreaking country-folk. There are others that I like (I did live in Nashville for three years!) but I think most of them have been covered already…

    You might also check out Pandora.

  31. Liz

    This is my first time commenting your blog, which I absolutely adore by the way. Here are a few of my country favorites…
    Miranda Lambert
    Stay With Me – Josh Gracin
    Zac Brown Band
    Lady Antebellum

  32. kirsten woods

    Sugarland- I pride myself on being an early devotee. my favs are:All I want to do, Already gone, Come on get highter(this is the BEST!), you might make me believe, love, settlin, something more, these are the days, tonight, we run, wide open.

  33. Hannah Belle

    Dixie Chicks (especially there early stuff), Pat Green, George Straight, Eli Young Band, Casey Donahew Band, Eric Church (speaks to my soul), Jason Aldean, Garth Brooks (absolute MUST), and Lady Antebellum
    These are all my Go-To’s when i need a country fix.

  34. Joanna

    I listened to a lot of country in the late 80’s-early 90’s. You can’t go wrong with Reba McEntire-I can’t believe no one has mentioned her! If Dolly Parton is the queen of country, Reba is the princess (you have to listen to “Fancy” and “Is there life out there” and “The night the lights went out in Georgia”, though the last is only a cover, but her rendition is SO GOOD). I also still have a lot of love for George Strait (“Amarillo by Morning”, “Heartland”, “The Fireman”), Garth Brooks (“Callin’ Baton Rouge”, “The River”, “Two of a Kind”, “Shameless”, “Papa Loved Mama”…the list goes on), and Alan Jackson (“chattahoochee”).

    And if you want classic country, listen to Patsy Cline. Stat. She’s a very big deal. Listen to “Walkin’ After Midnight”. Sad, but achingly beautiful.

    Oh, and I love Dwight Yoakam, too.

    These songs are so much fun to listen to! Enjoy!

  35. SJ

    ***Jo Dee Messina*** She is the absolute best to sing along to! Her Greatest Hits album is the best “happy country” music there is!

  36. Elizabeth @ Dapper Paper

    I’m born and raised in the south, not a huge fan of mainstream country but I love old country. And alt-country is my jam and the soundtrack to my life.
    to name a few:
    -Ryan Adams
    -Patty Griffin
    -Thad Cockrell (he is a good friend of ours. The huz and I played in a band with him at church and i loved singing with thad!)
    -Band of Horses (these boys are not southern but they are heavily influenced by the south and they currently live in my home state of SC)
    -Robert Plant/Allison Krauss stuff if awesome. As is Robert Plant’s new stuff featuring Patty Griffin
    -Lucinda Williams

  37. Erin

    I actually had a hidden preset in my car for country music so ppl wouldn’t know that I liked it…

    Here are my favorite Happy (non-Jesus) country faves that make me smile:

    Specific songs –
    Fancy & the night the lights went out in georgia – Reba
    I Wanna Talk About Me – Toby Keith
    Sold – John Michael Montgomery
    My Baby Loves Me – Martina McBride (also Broken Wing)
    She’s In Love with the Boy – Trisha Yearwood
    Forever and Ever Amen – Randy Travis (I smile and cry EVERY time I hear this song)
    Livin On Love – Alan Jackson
    Angels Among Us – Alabama (it is christian, but I love this song!)
    And appropriate for your transition Gone Country – Alan Jackson
    Boot Scootin’ Boogie – Brooks and Dunn
    Chattahoochee – Alan Jackson
    Bigger than the Beatles – Joe Diffie

    Johnny Cash (ring of fire, boy named sue)
    Dixie Chicks! (Wide open spaces
    Old Shania Twain (Any Man of Mine)
    old Faith Hill stuff (not newer things, the first albums like This Kiss)
    ALL of the 1990’s Garth Brooks.
    Alabama’s greatest hits has some great classic songs.
    Noticed I put three Alan Jackson songs up there – older stuff is good.

  38. Katie Armour Post author

    Copying each and every one of these into a word doc. My iTunes bill is going to be massive this weekend and yet, it will be SO worth every penny ; )

  39. Deanna (Silly Goose Farm)

    I like the pioneers in, let’s call it, “Alt Country” – Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Band, Levon Helms. Johnny Cash is quintessential. Also love Lyle Lovett and Alison Krause. Happy hunting! On my blog I do a “weekend listening” section if you are ever looking for new tunes.

  40. Casey Jay

    Carrie Underwood’s “All American Girl” never ceases to make me grin from ear to ear. I’m also a huge fan of Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried.”

    She doesn’t fit into the modern “country” category, but Neko Case’s Middle Cyclone album is definitely worth checking out if you want more of a folk/Americana vibe.

  41. Lydia

    I have to put my two cents in here. I love a good country song, my fav artists are Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Taylor Swift and Ryan Bingham

  42. Shara

    Looks like you already have tons of recommendations, but I just have to share:

    Billy Bragg & Wilco (Mermaid Avenue)
    Neko Case
    Emmylou Harris
    Dolly Parton

    I have this amazing “Gold Country” tape that used to be my mom’s that I listen to all the time, but I always forget the individual artists on it!

  43. Annie

    If you’re looking to venture into bluegrass, too, definitely look into Trampled by Turtles, Dead Man Winter, Old Crow Medicine Show, and 18 South! Amazing.

  44. Roe

    Happy country, happy country….off the top of my head

    *Garth Brooks: “I’ve got friends in low places”
    *Sugarland (in general)
    *Rascal Flats: “Mayberry”
    *Dierks Bently: “What was I thinking”

  45. Lauren

    My favorite country songs, and artists for that matter, are Jolene by Dolly Parton and Jackson by Johnny Cash and June Carter. I also have never been too disappointed with the likes of Tim McGraw and back in the 90s I was obsessed with the Dixie Chicks.

  46. Karen

    George strait, waylon jennnings, steve earle, sugarland, lady antebellum, tanya tucker, tim mcgraw, kenny chesney, lorrie morgan… go on, type in any of these and see what comes up!

  47. Elizabeth

    I’ve been into Willie Nelson this week… but I scanned your comments and did not see my number one favorite bluegrassish…countryesque band of all time…


    You must check out NICKEL CREEK. :)

    I’ll say it again… just in case my comment gets lost will all the others. :)


    Love your blog! :)

  48. jillian

    i grew up listening to country music but it took me a while to finally admit that i loved it. George Strait’s song clear blue sky finally broke me down.

    i would also recommend anything by tim mcgraw, dixie chicks (their entire ‘home’ album is a must listen), keith urban, john michael montgomery, alan jackson, dierks bently

    xoxo jcd

  49. Julie Ciapciak

    Oh, this post excites me so!
    My boyfriend plays the pedal steel guitar in a country music band! We were just in Los Angeles, his first time, and he was so happy to add to his collection of cowboy boots from the surplus of vintage stores!
    He loves the old stuff, Dolly, Hank, Loretta…I’ll have him compile a list and send it to you! Happy Monday, Katie!

  50. Kendra

    I grew up resenting country music since that was all my dad would listen to, but have recently found myself crossing over as well! Still not a mainstream country fan, but I do love a good alt-country tune. Check out the Avett Brothers! I also love the Old 97’s and singer Rhett Miller’s solo work, Ryan Adams, Delta Spirit, and Rickie Lee Jones.

  51. Scarlett Moberly

    absolutely love country–reminds me of summers spent at my family’s rural beach cottage hanging with the locals…some of my favorites are:
    If I Die Young – The Band Perry
    Easy Silence – Dixie Chicks
    Wild At Heart – Gloriana
    Johnny and June – Heidi Newfield
    The Truth – Jason Aldean
    Lover, Lover – Jerrod Neimann
    Wanted – Jesse James
    anything by Keith Urban but especially:
    – Kiss a Girl
    – Sweet Thing
    – Til Summer Comes Around
    – I’m In
    – Put You In A Song
    – Somebody Like You
    – Who Wouldn’t Want to Be Me
    – Jeans On
    – You Look Good In My Shirt
    – Raining on Sunday
    – I Told You So
    I’m Alive (feat. Dave Matthews) – Kenny Chesney
    American Honey – Lady Antebellum
    Gunpowder & Lead – Miranda Lambert
    White Liar – Miranda Lambert
    Arlington – Ridley Bent
    Sugarland’s cover of Come On Get Higher is amazing
    Tay Swift favorites are I’d Lie and Hey Stephen

    Long list! But they’re all great…enjoy!

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